The BVA has been accused of being "negligent, obsessed and politically driven".

The BVA has been accused of being “negligent, obsessed and politically driven”.

Shechita UK has accused the British Veterinary Association of having a “fixation with religious slaughter” which “beggars belief” on the day MPs debate the practice.

The organisation accused the BVA of being “negligent, obsessed and politically driven”.

The BVA was behind a petition calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter that collected more than 100,000 signatures to secure today’s Westminster Hall debate in London.

Although the debate does not form part of any legislative process and no vote will be taken, the BVA and its supporters hope it will ensure the issue remains on the political agenda.

A minister from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will have to attend to speak for the Government.

Shimon Cohen, director of Shechita UK, said: “The sheer volume of campaigning the BVA and others have put into this e-petition highlights the complete hypocrisy in animal welfare campaigning today. The BVA are currently being negligent in their duty to protect animals.

“If there is a genuine interest in improving animal welfare standards at time of slaughter, we need to look at many areas like abattoir practices, CCTV, and mis-stunning. This fixation with religious slaughter beggars belief.”

Shechita UK insists the strictly controlled method of religious slaughter, which involves the use of a surgically-sharp knife, is humane and painless.

Animals are effectively stunned by a sudden drop in blood pressure in the brain which causes unconsciousness within two seconds, it is claimed.

Conventional “mechanical” stunning is carried out using either a bolt fired into the brain or an electric shock.

Mr Cohen pointed out that since January 2013 there had already been two previous debates on religious slaughter in the House of Lords and at Westminster Hall.

“For animal welfare groups to push for a third is wild-eyed and obsessive,” he added.

He said a petition in favour of religious slaughter had attracted 50,000 signatures in “just days”.

BVA president John Blackwell said: “BVA’s e-petition to end non-stun slaughter now has over 115,000 signatures and clearly shows the strength of feeling about animal welfare at slaughter. BVA has long argued that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain and we are pleased that the British public has got so firmly behind our campaign, which is based on scientific evidence.”